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Swiss plug renewable energy sources

Leuenberger has pleaded for renewable energy swissinfo.ch

Switzerland has called for more resources to be channelled into the development of renewable forms of energy at a major climate conference in Geneva.

This content was published on January 23, 2006 - 18:28

The appeal by Environment Minister Moritz Leuenberger came at the launch of an international campaign aimed at raising awareness of the causes and consequences of global warming.

"We have to move forwards," said Leuenberger. "I am convinced that those countries and regions that prove to be the most dynamic and innovative in terms of saving energy will be the best placed to develop and also the safest."

The Swiss environment minister underlined that it was up to the regions to take the lead in drawing up durable solutions, adding that they could reap "huge benefits" from locally sourced forms of renewable energy.

The "Planet Climate" programme, which is being supported by the Federal Energy Office and the Geneva-based World Meteorological Organization, was unveiled on Monday at the start of a five-day conference on the impact of climate change.

On the opening day several Swiss experts warned that global warming caused by greenhouse-gas emissions posed an increasing threat to the planet.

Those outlining their concerns included Martin Beniston, head of the department of geosciences at Fribourg University. He warned that the killer heatwave of 2003, which caused an estimated 25,000 more deaths than usual in Europe, was a taste of things to come.

Regular heatwaves

Beniston said summer temperatures in Switzerland could regularly top 35 degrees Celsius by the end of the century.

He added that climate change would also lead to a combination of more drought and violent rainfall, threatening a repeat of floods like those that swamped central Switzerland last August.

Antoine Guisan, from Lausanne University's department of ecology and evolution, told the conference that global warming was already having a noticeable effect on ecosystems.

"The change is very striking and it is difficult to argue against it," he said. Guisan pointed out that spring now arrived in Switzerland 12 days earlier than half a century ago and new exotic plant species were appearing in some southern regions of the country.

Jürg Luterbacher, a research scientist at Bern University, claimed that neither solar nor volcanic activity could explain the acceleration in the rise in temperatures.

"There is no doubt that greenhouse gas emissions are responsible for global warming," he said.

swissinfo with agencies

In brief

Michel Jarraud, director general of the Geneva-based World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), told the conference that CO2 levels had risen by more than third and were at their highest level in 420,000 years.

According to the WMO, the average temperature rose by 0.6°C degrees Celsius during the last century. It is due to climb by a further 1.4 to 5.8°C by the end of this century.

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Key facts

The five-day conference, "Climate Changes: Energy and Mobility", is being hosted by the European Foundation for the Sustainable Development of the Regions.
It brings together around 500 political leaders, local, national and international decision makers, and scientists.

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